Remembrance of the Life of Marjorie Riggs CoL
Marjorie Riggs died in the 25th year of her Loretto Co-membership. When she applied for co-membership in late 1996, Marge wrote an autobiography in which she laid out her life in plain and simple words:
“I was born in the small town of Olathe, on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies. I am the second of four girls [Her sisters include Mary Jo Basta, Betty Foss and Lillian Kaestner]. My Father, John Aschenbrenner, was a farmer and miner for many years. When he farmed, we lived in the Delta, Olathe and Montrose areas of western Colorado; and when he mined, we lived in the Silverton, Telluride areas.
“My parents were of European origin. Mother, Pauline Kloberdanz, was born in Russia of German parents, and Father was born in Iowa of German parents who came from Russia.
“My sisters and I were brought up in a conservative home. We had a very deep devotion to our Roman Catholic faith. We had few toys, but had no problem making our own entertainment and certainly did not know or think that we were poor. As we grew older, we had various jobs to make money for ‘extras.’ I feel that my parents did well to get us through high school.”
Marge graduated from Delta High School in 1950 and moved to Denver with her sister Betty in 1952, at the age of 20. She took a job with Mountain Bell; in her 14 years with the company, Marge rose through several clerking positions to assume management roles in auditing, personnel training and supervision.
In 1965, Marge married Bob Riggs and the next year left her job to raise a family. They had two children, Gretchen Riggs Smith and Tom Riggs, who later praised both their parents as “wonderful.” Of Marge, particularly, they said, “Family was her cornerstone.”
About 1980, Bob and then Marge began working at the Loretto Denver Center, Bob in charge of maintenance and Marge as receptionist. Marge described her work in this way: “I worked for the Sisters of Loretto for nearly 16 years as the switchboard operator and receptionist. I also did various jobs for many of the Sisters. I enjoyed assisting Rhodes Tutoring with miscellaneous assignments. It was a wonderful job, and I did my very best to do what was required of me. I have deep love and respect for the Order and hope to keep my connections ongoing by preparing for and becoming a Co-member.”
Recommending Marge for co-membership were three esteemed senior Sisters at the Loretto Center: Sister Mary Denis Bruck, who hired Marge; Sister Celine Marie DeSmet, who worked closely with her at the switchboard; and Sister Barbara Croghan, who was a resident at the Center nearly the entire time Marge worked there.
Sister Denis wrote, “Marjorie worked as our receptionist/telephone operator. Her business background with the phone company made her an ideal person to represent the Sisters of Loretto to the public. Her thoughtfulness and consideration of the Sisters in taking messages and helping with appointments was a great gift to us. Her interest in the needs of the Community and in protecting us from unwanted solicitations was outstanding. Marjorie worked for nine months and had summers off to be with her children. She adjusted her schedule to fill in if her help was needed.
“Marjorie became very interested in the Sisters of Loretto while working with us. She has a great love of the Sisters and of the Congregation. The Community will be enriched because Marjorie is a very thoughtful and prayerful woman. She has acquired the ‘Loretto Spirit’ and will contribute in her gentle way. … I know this relationship is very important to her and will help her to grow spiritually.”
Sister Celine Marie wrote, “Marge worked as our switchboard operator; she worked the early sessions each day and the Sisters helped at other times. As one of the Sister-operators, I was trained by Marge and worked closely with her. She knew everything about good operators and shared with us. Like her husband Bob, the two outstanding traits I would dwell on are integrity and loyalty. It seemed like an act of Providence that she came along when she did. [Now that she is retired] she has offered to volunteer helping in any way she can: driving Sisters to doctor appointments, airport, shopping, etc.“
Sister Barbara wrote, “I could not extol Marge and Bob enough, for their loyalty, charity, understanding. … They love Loretto, as witnessed by their visit to the Motherhouse for four days, visiting all [whom they knew at] Loretto Center Denver. Even though they have both retired, they make frequent visits to the Center. They have shown me much about Christianity and love and loyalty.”
In their obituary about their mother, Gretchen and Bob wrote, “Marge loved retirement, traveling, camping and spending time with her family and friends. We are proud of how she enjoyed life and made people smile, even while struggling with all of the consequences of Lewy body/Parkinson’s disease.
”In lieu of flowers and contributions, and in honor and memory of Marge, please spend time with senior citizens, especially those who have been negatively impacted by the extreme isolation brought on by the Covid virus lockdowns.
“Marge was a big fan of ice cream, so consider bringing a McFlurry, Blizzard, or Frosty when you visit a loved one. She recently said that her favorite flavor was ‘anything with a cherry on top.’ ”